The General Sir John Kotelawala Defense University, in partnership with the U.S. Embassy, hosted a conference on “A Shared Vision for the Indo-Pacific” on March 31. Conference participants discussed the Biden Administration’s new Indo-Pacific Strategy and how it aligns with regional initiatives that promote shared prosperity, democracy, and security.
U.S. State Department Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu delivered the keynote address emphasizing that the “Indo-Pacific Strategy is meant to show that we do not stand against a country or a group of countries. It’s meant to show that we stand for something. We stand for a free and open Indo-Pacific.” Ambassador Julie J. Chung noted, in her opening remarks, that the United States envisions an Indo-Pacific that is “free and open, connected, prosperous, resilient, and secure” and that builds upon “many decades of partnership across the region.” Ambassador Chung added that “Sri Lanka, with its strategic location next to vital shipping lanes, has a key leadership role in the Indo-Pacific.”
In his welcome remarks, Vice Chancellor of General Sir John Kotelawala Defense University Major General Milinda Peiris highlighted the importance and timeliness of the discussion stating that “The Indo-Pacific is increasingly a focus of international geopolitical attention due to the rising influence of both China and India [and therefore] forums such as this are imperative in charting a way forward in bridging the policy academic research nexus.”
Panel discussions were moderated by well-known regional analyst Professor C. Raja Mohan and considered different perspectives on the U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy, South Asian security challenges, and regional economic issues. Panelists included U.S. experts and regional analysts from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Singapore, and Sri Lanka.
Held at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel in Colombo, the conference was attended in-person and virtually by over 300 participants.